June 23, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Top-Notch YA Novels with Male Protagonists │ JLG’s Booktalks to Go

Teen readers are in for a treat with the latest books from these A-List male authors. Whether it’s a new book in the series or a standalone title, the following selections from the editors at Junior Library Guild live up to the promise that we’ve come to expect from these award-winning writers.

Avi Catch You Later_AVI. Catch You Later, Traitor. 304p. Algonquin. 2015. ISBN 9781616203597. JLG Category: C+ : Advanced Readers (Grades 6-9).

During the height of the Red Scare, Pete’s father is accused of being a Communist: one rumor and his whole life changes. His best friend isn’t allowed to talk to him. He’s ostracized at school. When the FBI tries to corner the boy into informing on his dad, he decides to do some investigation of his own. What he learns is not what he expected.

He writes. He Skypes. He blogs. Fan-favorite Avi reflects on his website, provides teaching materials, and inspires kids to read and write to become better writers. A reader’s guide is available on the publisher’s page. A video of the Giants winning the pennant is available, “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World.” For more on the Red Scare, visit History.com.

MastermindsKORMAN, Gordon. Masterminds. 336p. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. 2015. ISBN 9780062299963. JLG Category: HIM : High Interest Middle School (Grades 5–8).

Growing up with the same set of friends seems normal in a small town. Then Eli learns that something secretive is happening in the place where everyone thought there were no secrets. What’s really going on? Who can he trust?

Check out the prolific author’s website for a reader’s forum, blog, and more resources. Fans can follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Go to the publisher’s website and read a sample of the first chapter to kids—the book will sell itself. What’s a visit with the author like? Read an account from a recent library visit. Indy Week posts an interview on their website.

hitcountLYNCH, Chris. Hit Count. 368p. Algonquin. 2015. ISBN 9781616202507. JLG Category: SH : Sports High (Grades 9 & Up).

“I hit him so hard, the clash of helmets and pads sounded like a gunshot across the field. I crushed him with the hit, held on to him, and crushed him again when I slammed him into the ground . . . I had arrived.” Arlo doesn’t care about the hit count, no matter what his mom says. Football is what he does; the pain and the dizziness is all just part of the game.

On Algonquin’s website, readers can meet the cast of this YA novel, and read an interview with the author. Do your patrons or students want to know the story behind the story? Share the author insights essay. What do professional football players think about the dangers of the sport? Read what Mike Ditka had to say in the Bloomberg View.

Book Review: The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason ReynoldsREYNOLDS, Jason. The Boy in the Black Suit. 272p. S. & S./Atheneum. 2015. ISBN 9781442459502. JLG Category: CH : City High School (Grades 10 & Up).

Matt never thought that he would get a part-time job in Mr. Ray’s funeral home, especially so soon after his mother’s death. The job suits him, however, and he is drawn to watching the mourners, if only to feel he isn’t alone in his grief. Between Mr. Ray and his new girl Lovey, Matt discovers how to live.

Recipient of The Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe award for New Talent, Reynolds posts fan mail and other thoughts on his website. Fans can follow him on Twitter. An excerpt of his latest hit is available on the publisher’s website. NPR and @GuysLitWire published great reviews.

ghosts of heavenSEDGWICK, Marcus. The Ghosts of Heaven. 336p. Roaring Brook. 2015. ISBN 9781626721258. JLG Category: Y : Young Adults (Grades 9 & Up).

Four stories join together, linked by their connection to the spiral shape. Read them front to back or mix it up. According to Sedgwick, they work in any direction. From the insane asylum to a witch hunt and prehistoric times to a future life away from earth, these vignettes celebrate the endless pattern nature creates again and again.

Click the red button on the author’s website for menu items such as novels, biography, and contact information. Teens will want to check out the book’s Tumblr for an amazing number of spiral photos, which also appear in the book trailer. Follow Sedgwick on most social media, including Twitter.

Additional Resources

The resources for the above titles have been organized in JLG Booktalks to Go: Spring 2015 LiveBinder. Titles are sorted by interest level, PreK-3, 3-6, 5-8, and YA. All websites are posted within each LiveBinder, along with the accompanying booktalk. As I write more columns, more books and their resources are added. Everything you need to teach or share brand new, hot-off-the-press books is now all in one place. Booktalks and resources are also included on JLG’s BTG Pinterest board.

For library resources, tips, and ideas, please visit JLG’s Shelf Life Blog.

Junior Library Guild (JLG) is a collection development service that helps school and public libraries acquire the best new children’s and young adult books. Season after season, year after year, Junior Library Guild book selections go on to win awards, collect starred or favorable reviews, and earn industry honors. Visit us at www.JuniorLibraryGuild.com. (NOTE: JLG is owned by Media Source, Inc., SLJ’s parent company.)

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Deborah B. Ford About Deborah B. Ford

Deborah is the Director of Library Outreach for Junior Library Guild. She is an award-winning teacher librarian with almost 30 years of experience as a classroom teacher and librarian in K–12 schools.